Thousands of demonstrators, from factions opposed to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, gathered in front of the Green Zone, in Baghdad, to protest against his supporters storming the Iraqi parliament building.
The bloc opposed to Muqtada al-Sadr includes political parties and militias loyal to Iran. The bloc, known as the Coordinating Framework, says Monday’s protests are aimed at protecting state institutions from the civil disobedience of Sadr’s supporters.
These Shiite factions are linked to a well-armed militia, which threatens to erupt clashes between the two parties, amid escalating tension, due to the failure to form the government, nearly 10 months after the October elections.
“Back then retreat”
The demonstrators threw stones at police, from behind the concrete barriers surrounding the Green Zone, where the parliament building, which was occupied by Sadr’s supporters last week. The police responded with water cannons.
The Sadrists demand the organization of new elections and the demise of the political system that has ruled the country since the US invasion of Iraq and the fall of the late President Saddam Hussein.
According to reports, thousands of demonstrators withdrew later from the gate of the suspension bridge in central Baghdad, which leads to the Green Zone.
In an audio message, the Secretary-General of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Qais al-Khazali thanked the demonstrators for defending the state, its legitimacy, its institutions and democracy, and for not allowing slipping into internal strife.
For his part, the head of the State of Law coalition, Nuri al-Maliki, said in an audio message, “The aim of this demonstration is to establish the state and its institutions, the constitution and order.
Hundreds of Sadr’s followers are continuing their sit-in in the Iraqi parliament.
Supporters of the Shiite cleric stormed the building Saturday for the second time in three days, after demolishing concrete walls in the fortified “Green Zone”.
This step aims to prevent the competing parliamentary bloc “Coordination Framework” from voting on choosing a new prime minister.
What did the chest say?
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has urged other factions to support the protest started by his supporters due to a dispute over who should appoint the next prime minister.
He called on his supporters to protest peacefully across the country – an escalation of protests that began in the capital, Baghdad, over what he described as political corruption.
Al-Sadr praised what he called the “spontaneous revolution in the Green Zone” as an opportunity to bring about “radical change.”
In a statement on his Twitter account, he said that these developments represented “a great opportunity to fundamentally change the political system, the constitution and the elections.”
What did the coordination framework say?
On the other hand, the Organizing Committee for Supporting Legitimacy and Preserving State Institutions, affiliated to the Coordination Framework of Shiite political forces, issued a statement calling on the Iraqi people to “demonstrate peacefully to defend their state and the future of their children.”
The committee warned that recent developments “warn of planning a suspicious coup, hijacking the state, insulting its constitutional institutions and canceling the democratic process in it.”
The sit-in by al-Sadr’s supporters came in protest against the nomination of the coordinating framework of Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani – considered by some to be close to former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and a supporter of Iran – for the position of prime minister.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kinani Shafi said that the differences between the Iraqi parties are an internal matter, and that Iran believes that the Iraqi political parties can resolve the existing differences peacefully and within the constitutional framework.
These statements are the first official reaction from Iran to the recent developments in Iraq.
The tension dates back to October, when al-Sadr’s bloc won 73 seats in the elections, making it the largest faction in the 329-seat parliament.
But talks to form a new government have stalled for months. Last month, deputies from the Sadr bloc resigned.
64 new MPs were sworn in later in June, making the Coordination Framework the largest coalition in parliament.
Last week, the Coordination Framework announced the selection of Muhammad Shia’a al-Sudani as a candidate for the position of prime minister.
Al-Sadr’s supporters oppose Al-Sudani’s candidacy. The political blockage in the country has disrupted many of the measures that Iraq needs.
The paralysis left the country without a budget for 2022, which led to the suspension of spending on much-needed infrastructure projects and the implementation of economic reforms.
Iraqis say the situation is exacerbating the lack of services and jobs even as the oil-rich country gets record oil income due to high crude prices.
Al-Kazemi’s government runs the country’s affairs until a new government is formed.
Al-Kazemi took office in 2019, in the wake of mass demonstrations protesting the difficult conditions and corruption, and led to the resignation of his predecessor, Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
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